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At Halfway: Starters Learn From First Half And Look To Finish Strong In The Second Half

Now that we are starting the second half of the season at all levels of full season baseball we would like to take this time to get caught up to date on what all the players we have featured are up too. We have been updating readers all season long on top pitching and offensive performances on twitter and will continue to attempt to recognize these performances during the second half as well. In the mean time we wanted to recap each of our featured players first half performances.

Jake Brigham

After being placed on the Rangers 40-man roster in the off-season Brigham returned to Frisco to start the 2012 campaign. While he was used as both a starter and reliever during the 2011 season, Brigham has been the workhorse of the Roughriders starting rotation in 2012. Over the course of 18 starts the right hander leads the Roughriders in innings pitched with 106 and has struck out 99 batters. Barret Loux with 90.1 innings pitched is the next closest member on the Roughriders pitching staff. At this point in the season Brigham has a 4-5 record with a 4.67 ERA.  The Texas League honored Brigham as one of the top pitchers in the league when he was named and participated in the 2012 Texas League All-Star game. In the second half of the year Brigham will need to work on limiting home runs. In his 18 starts he has allowed 19 home runs and they have come back to hurt him at times. Look for Brigham to continue to be the workhorse of the Roughriders staff during the second half.

Zack Dodson

After having a successful 2011 season, Dodson returned to the West Virginia Power to begin the 2012 season. Dodson’s starts this season have had their share of ups and downs. In the first half of the season Dodson has lacked the consistency he showed in 2011. In 18 starts this season the left-hander has posted a 4-5 record with a 5.36 ERA. As the second half of the South Atlantic League season began, Dodson has begun to turn things around. “I’ve focused on being better each day. I challenged myself to not worry about the things I have no control of and after a couple of starts I’ve started to gain the confidence and wanting I had in April.” Dodson said.

The left-handers last two starts against Lakewood and Rome have shown that. In his last 13 innings pitched, Dodson has allowed only one earned run and struck out nine batters while picking up one win for the Power. “From a pitching stand point I’ve focused on better execution and pitch selection.” Dodson said of his recent success.

James Paxton

Entering this season Paxton was rated as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Over the first half of 2011 Paxton at times has shown why. In 13 starts with the Jackson Generals Paxton has a 4-3 record with a 3.26 ERA. He has averaged over a strike out an inning, setting down hitters 68 times in 60 innings pitched. During his May 25th start Paxton was injured and missed a little over a month of the season. Prior to his injury the one area of Paxton’s game which struggled was his control. Paxton walked 34 batters over the course of his 60 innings he has pitched this season. As he worked his way back from injury he also worked on the control.. The results indicate that he has made adjustments and has improved his control since returning from injury. In his three starts since returning Paxton has pitched in 14 innings and has compiled 16 strikeouts to two walks. He has also allowed just two earned runs in those starts. It is easy to say why Paxton is not only one of the best prospects in the Mariners system but one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Robby Rowland

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Rowland in an early season trade from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brett Lorin whom the Pirates could not protect in the Rule 5 draft. Rowland joined the Pirates in extended spring training to work on his mechanics before he was assigned to the West Virginia Power rotation. In his 10 starts this season Rowland has been arguably the most consistent starter in the Power rotation. Over the course of the first half, Rowland has went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA. In a recent start on July 7th against the Lakewood Blueclaws Rowland shut out his opponent over 6 innings to pick up the win. Rowland has worked on refining his sinker throughout the season and he sees this pitch as a key to his continued success.

James Pugliese

The Cubs prospect recently got his season underway as a member of the Boise Hawks rotation. Pugliese spent the first half of the season working at the Cubs extended spring training facility. In his 6 starts since the Hawks season started Pugliese has put up consistent numbers going 0-2 with a 3.90 ERA. The right-handers best start of the season so far took place on July 1st , he went 4 innings and only allowed 2 base runners while striking out 5 batters. Pugliese will see much more action during the second half of the season.

Keyvius Sampson

The Padres prospect has had also had some ups and downs as a starter during the first half of the season. In 18 starts with the AA San Antonio Missions, Sampson has compiled a 5-8 record with a 5.37 ERA. While his strikeout numbers are solid, fanning 81 batters in 85 innings, walks have been a problem. Sampson has walked a total of 47 batters over that same span and they have got in him trouble during his starts. The opposition is only hitting .215 against Sampson however he has allowed 50 earned runs. In two recent starts against Northwest Arkansas, Sampson only allowed one walk while striking out eight in 12 1/3 innings. He picked up the win in each of those starts.  If Sampson can limit the walks during the second half of the season look for him to rebound and be a consistent contributor to the Missions rotation.

Zack Von Rosenberg

Von Rosenberg started his season in Bradenton at the Pirates extended spring training facility working on fixing some mechanical issues. On June 5th he returned to action with the West Virginia Power. The right-handed hurler had spent the entire 2011 season with the Power so he was back in a familiar place. In eight starts this season with the Power Von Rosenberg has gone 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA. Over the course of 38.1 innings pitched Von Rosenberg has walked only nine batters showing good control as he has in past seasons. His best start of the season came on June 29th in a game against Delmarva. The right hander went six innings allowing zero runs while striking out six batters earning the win. Von Rosenberg like Zack Dodson hope that their second half performance could convince the Pirates to promote them to Bradenton by the season’s end.

Cody Wheeler

Wheeler made his long-awaited debut on June 18th of the season finally returning from Tommy John surgery. It was a long road back for the Coastal Carolina product but he delivered in his first start back. Facing Eugene he went five innings and only allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five batters. Since then Wheeler have compiled a 3-0 record with a 2.05 ERA for the Yakima Bears. He has amassed 30 strikeouts while only walking seven batters and has help the opposition to a .212 batting average. If Wheeler keeps this up look for the Diamondbacks to move him up a level before the year is over.

Lance McCullers Jr.

The 2012 supplemental first round pick of the Houston Astros made his professional debut on July 13th playing for the Astros entry in the Gulf Coast League. McCullers got the start and went a total of three innings allowing one hit and striking out two batters. Look for more updates on McCullers Jr. as the season continues.

Kevin Gausman

The LSU product who was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles was one of the final players to ink a deal right before the draft signing deadline. Gausman will spend some time in the Orioles extended spring training program before being assigned to a minor league affiliate. Look for updates on Gausman throughout the remainder of the season.

Tomorrow we will recap the performances of the infielders. Look forward to recaps all week and then we will get back to featuring more great and unique stories that will feature players at all different stages in their chase to the major leagues. Remember to keep following us on twitter for updates on individual player performances each night. You can follow us @CTD_Sypien 

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